Mendy (my co-rover) and I would like to tell you a story.
In the Galician town of Rimanov, a little boy was born. His parents named him after the famous chassidic master, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimanov (1745–1815).
Chassidic life in Rimanov had revolved around the rebbe, Torah study and the Jewish holidays.
Little Menachem Mendel’s childhood was cut short by the Nazi invasion of Poland. By the war’s end, his familiar universe no longer existed. His cheder (Torah school), melamed (Torah teacher) and shtetl (hamlet) had been reduced to mere memories.
Mendel’s family lost their homes, but they did not lose their Jewish heritage. They found their way to a DP camp in Steyr, Austria, where they were to remain for a number of years.
During that time, Mendel was enrolled in an ad-hoc religious school that was a joint effort of Chabad chassidim and the Agudath Israel organization. Mendel was assigned to Rabbi Feldman’s class. A passionate chassid, Rabbi Feldman imbued his students with a love and dedication for Torah and Judaism.
Eventually, Mendel and his family relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Moving to America required many adjustments, but Mendel—now called Manny—never lost his strong Jewish identity. On the fertile shores of the USA, the seed planted in his soul had blossomed into a strong and healthy tree.
He, his brother, and the rest of the family became pillars of the Kenosha community. They opened a family furniture store. For miles around it was known that their store was always closed on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Manny and his brother are still very involved in Bnei Zedek Chabad, the local Orthodox synagogue. This Shabbat we had the treat of hearing him lead the prayers. His hauntingly beautiful Old World tunes made the services especially meaningful to us. Thank G‑d, Manny is able to ride his bike and lead an active and productive life.
Manny graciously shared his memories and photos with us, and we have decided to pass on the favor to you.